Oak Park resident Jim Andrews shuts down Felony Franks

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Print

By Ben Meyerson

Chicago Journal Editor

Oak Park resident Jim Andrews opened a hot dog stand on the West Side of Chicago in 2009 to give ex-offenders a place to work.

But now, after almost three years of ups and downs, Andrews had to call it quits. His restaurant, Felony Franks, ceased operation a week ago Monday.

"I feel bad," Andrews said, "but I had a talk with the guys."

Andrews will have to let all four of his employees go, all of them ex-offenders who were given a chance through Felony Franks.

"Jim Andrews is a great man and this neighborhood needs more businessmen like him," Calvin Thomas, a manager at Felony Franks, said.

The stand faced many obstacles, everything from a two-year battle with the alderman over a permit for a sign to financial troubles.

"I have to do what's best now," Andrews said

Although the doors have closed, Andrews is looking for a new location in Chicago or in the suburbs, in particular Willow Springs or Elmhurst, to re-open his business.

Some of the employees blame Adams liquors, a few doors down from the stand for Felony Franks' financial difficulties because crowds from the liquor store spilled over to the front of the restaurant.

"I think it's terrible," Mirian Hernandez, a worker at Felony Franks said. "It was a good idea until that liquor store moved in."

The hardest part for Andrews is letting his employees go.

"They almost brought me to tears," Andrews said. "They said, 'We are here to the end with you, Jimmy, and we appreciate what you did for us.'"

Thomas said he will focus on his Web development business, and Hernandez will work for a friend of Andrews in another restaurant. Andrews says he will help the other employees if they need it. "They could collect unemployment until the transition is over," he said.

Community leader Earnest Gates, head of the Near West Side Chamber of Commerce, said Felony Franks' glorification of the criminal lifestyle was demeaning and the food just wasn't good enough.

"He didn't have the product or the service to cut the mustard," Gates said. "They're closed; I'm pleased. You can't tell someone how to theme their business, but we felt it was basically a slap at the community, basically considering the recidivism rate over here and in West Garfield."

But if Andrews has his way, Felony Franks won't be gone for long. He is planning ways to bring back his business, but for now he said he can no longer fight.

"I have to stop bleeding," Andrews said. "I'm bleeding too hard now."

Reader Comments

4 Comments - Add Your Comment

Comment Policy

Dan Hefner from Oak Park  

Posted: June 14th, 2012 9:33 AM

Jim, Petition the Village Rump-Te-Dumps for tiff funds and open up a new eatery on Madison Street. Whatever you need the Trustees of the People's Republic of Oak Park will get it to you. Our trustees excel and spending taxpayer funds on worthy endeavors such as a new Felony Franks. I look forward to a ribbon cutting with all the Powers that Be, pontificating on what a great addition Felony Franks will be for our Village.

Russ  

Posted: June 13th, 2012 1:36 PM

Never been there, but I think the concept has merit. We frequent Inspiration Kitchen by the Conservatory on Lake Street. The restaurant provides training for ex-offenders, etc. Excellent food, cheap, and a great restaurant atmosphere. I've seen a lot of Oak Parkers dining there.

Butchy Boy Murtaugh  

Posted: June 13th, 2012 10:47 AM

Would go great in the empty space in Walgreens right across from the Madision-Grove SRO! Felons could work across the street from where they live! Trustee Brewer would be happy!

Gym Koughlin  

Posted: June 12th, 2012 10:26 PM

I think Felony Franks would make a great addition to Oak Park.

Hire Local for FREE!

Post help wanted ads for FREE on the our local online job board.

Click here to place your ad

Quick Links

Sign-up to get the latest news updates for Oak Park and River Forest.


            
SubscribeClassified
Photo storeContact us
Submit Letter To The Editor
Place a Classified Ad